A Year on Saturn

...is approximately 29.7 Earth years.

"A Year on Saturn" is the website of Shannon Fay,
freelance and fiction writer.

Clarion West Week Three

Posted on: August 22nd, 2014 by Shannon Fay No Comments

Week three was the week of the heat wave. We sought respite from the heat by working down in the basement. The basement mainly consisted of a large, windowless study room and several ‘sleeping porches’ which were basically huge dorm rooms packed with bunk beds. They were hella creepy. Just bunk beds, stripped of any personal effects, the doors decorated by construction paper moon and stars and words that seemed sinister when taken out of context (‘Dream big, little ones.’ Dream of what? The Elder Gods?). Basically, it looked like some kind of nursery for monsters.

(It was actually where some of the sorority girls slept during the year. I’m not calling them monsters, I’m sure they are all very nice. But that room…)

The heat got so bad that eventually Marlee and I ditched our hot upstairs bedrooms to actually sleep in the sleeping porches. It was an improvement over our rooms in that it was cool, dark, and silent…like a tomb. As I tried to go to sleep I kept thinking about the room I was in. What if I opened my eyes and all the beds were occupied by ghostly figures? What if I looked and there was a figure in the middle of the room, taller than the bunks? Eventually I opened my eyes just enough to make sure Marlee was still down there with me. I did eventually go to sleep, and slept well, but even though the heat didn’t let up for another week we didn’t sleep down there again.

(I should note that fellow Clarion West 2014 member Rich slept in the other sleeping porch several times. That guy has nerves of steel).

But the study room itself was okay, if you like omnipresent fluorescent lights. The room’s lay out and atmosphere made it so you couldn’t do anything in there but work. Everybody pretty much understood that the basement was for serious writing. It was nice to have a space like that, where you could go and be with other people but still get work done.

A new week also meant a new instructor. Ian McDonald was like a jolly Father Christmas, turning week three into Christmas in July. He used Brian Blessed’s voice as his alarm clock, and Ian McDonald was only a few shades away from having the same bombastic demeanour. I was especially excited to meet him as he had judged a contest last year (The James White Award) which I had won. He also really liked my story that week (as did a lot of my classmates). Whoot!

Ian also hosted an improv class each morning at 8:30, half-an-hour before class began. This threw me off as I already had a set schedule in the mornings: get up a little before 8, shower, get dressed, re-read and marked-up the stories that were due to be critiqued that day (if I had been smart and brought an apple up to my room the night before I would eat it as I read) and then go downstairs to eat donuts and talk to people before class started at 9. Ian’s improv class shook me out of this schedule, but it was worth it, not just because of what it taught us about writing (always say yes to ideas) but also because it got us all moving and laughing. Most mornings at Clarion West we were collectively some combo of tired and hung-over. I’m not saying we weren’t tried/hung-over during Ian’s week, but thanks to his acting warm-ups we actually felt like we had energy and could act like human beings before 10 am.

Week three was also the week when I went to the EMP for the second time (totally worth it, since I had my pass) and the Pacific Science Center (totally not worth it, especially since I still had to pay extra to see the spy exhibit. Once again, the City Pass is just not worthwhile). There was a bunch of stuff I didn’t get to do, like go to the Space Needle, but I just had to let it go. Spending time on my writing and with my classmates was more important. Little did I know that in week four, I’d barely have time for either…



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